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The Special Collections unit of the Michigan State University Libraries collects, houses, and preserves rare and unique materials within the MSU Libraries. Our materials cover a vast array of topics from Africana to Veterinary Medicine. These materials are available to the public in our reading room.
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The plates in David Low's The Breeds of the Domestic Animals of the British Isles (London, 1842), form a highly valuable record of the state of animal husbandry at the start of the period when agriculture came to be considered a science. Many of the breeds shown are now extinct, although they are forerunners of today's breeds of domestic animals. Low, who was a professor of agriculture at the University of Edinburgh, hoped in his book to help farmers and breeders understand the importance of matching a breed to its environment while improving productivity. In addition to Low's text, William Shiels was commissioned to produce a series of paintings of all the significant breeds then of importance in Great Britain. William Nicholson made the drawings after Shiels' paintings to convert them to hand colored lithographed plates.